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My friend and former publisher Margaret Busby, to whom I showed the poem that follows, Beware Paparazzi!, suggested I send it to The Guardian. As for my accompanying letter, I learned that its addressee Ms McAfee is/was the partner of the much-praised wordmonger Ian McEwan another who, like Prof. Prynne, seems to invite explication if not accolades. There was anyhow no Grauniad acknowledgement either of my letter or of the verse-critique. A few years on, however, I feel that the poem (plus or minus its 'back story') still retains some measure of critical and satirical pertinence. 


21st May 2004 

Annalena McAfee
Editor: Review
The Guardian
119 Farringdon Road
London EC 1R3ER 

Dear Annalena McAfee 

Many Guardian readers will promptly have forwarded Robert Potts's absurd eulogy. Through The Oval Window ( Review, 10th April), to Private Eye/Pseuds' Corner. An understandably tempting response - but my own riposte, while belated, may be more considered.

Hence the enclosed, Beware Paparazzi! - in verse form since (after reading Potts-on-Prynne), my initial hilarity and sense of disbelief found satirical shape and metrical focus.

How or why do I dare criticize your critic's extraordinary scholarship? Well, as a writer, I also relish and collect examples of the humourless and pretentious, and Potts's piece of longwinded pomposity takes some beating.

I can be contacted as above, just in case you or any colleagues on The Guardian with common sense and/or a comic sense feel like acknowledging receipt, or springing to the defence of your favoured, if not pre-eminent, literary pair.

Best wishes 


 

BEWARE PAPARAZZI!

 "The Sunday Times had no trouble snatching an impertinent photo of him cycling down the street a few weeks ago..."     [Robert Potts on 'the famously obscure poet Jeremy Prynne', The Guardian, April 2004] 

Professor Prynne receives, at length, the fulsome praise
of explication, broadsheet prose. He is reviewed          
with fitting, baffled awe. Prynne's hard to understand.
Cutting-edge stuff. And avant-garde. It can't be panned
lightly. So what's with his new acolyte, R. Potts?
Ah, Potts, pretension and obscurity in Academe
are often deemed 'significant', not viewed as traps! 

Critics may lap up sourly intellectual cream,
fool a few poet-readers for some time perhaps.
'Dumbing-down' is derided. An acute malaise
recycles dictionaries skimmed in better days:
so consciousness runs dry and silts its own quick stream. 

Due space is always found for peddling of a pseud...
Po-faced effusions from odd toadies, Doctor Potts,
puff up each poetaster: there of course are lots
whose self-importance swells, great with ingrowing praise.
Prynne is as nice, bright as R. Potts, for all I know,
but Lit. Crit. should enlighten, sharp and sure not slow
to prune endangered Poetry before it rots.